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Best SSDs: $200 To $300

Best SSDs For The Money: May 2012
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Best SSDs for ~$210: Mainstream 240 GB

Mushkin Enhanced Chronos (Check Prices)

Mushkin Enhanced Chronos
240 GB
Sequential Read
560 MB/s
Sequential Write525 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
3 W
Power Consumption (Idle)1 W

Over the last two months, we've seen vendors slash prices on their first-generation SandForce SSDs in order to dump old inventory. Though they become great bargains, they still face competition. After all, you don't really have to spend much more to step up to a 6 Gb/s-capable drive instead.

Depending on the month, sometimes it's actually cheaper to buy a faster SF-22xx-based SSD than it would be to settle for last year's marked-down model. As you may have already noticed from the preceding pages, Mushkin is being particularly aggressive this month with its prices, which explains how the 240 GB Enhanced Chronos supplants first-generation SandForce-based offerings. At only $210, this SSD sports synchronous flash like OCZ's Vertex 3 and only costs $0.88 per GB.

We doubt these deals will last for long. Mushkin is likely making a big push here, so next month's recommendations could very well be completely different if the pricing seen here isn't permanent.

Best SSDs for ~$230: Premium Performance Option

Mushkin Chronos Deluxe (Check Prices)

Mushkin Chronos Deluxe
240 GB
Sequential Read
560 MB/s
Sequential Write520 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
3 W
Power Consumption (Idle)1 W

Wow. And Mushkin continues this month's sweep. Last month, the 240 GB was selling for $250. This month, its price is down yet another $20, pulling even a big 240 GB drive's cost under $1/GB.

When you consider that this SSD's performance equals (OCZ's Vertex 3 MAX IOPS and Patriot's Wildfire) are priced in excess of $400, this SSD is a great choice for anyone unwilling to compromise on capacity or performance, but still want a bargain.

Best SSDs for ~$250: Performance Option

Crucial m4 (Check Prices)

Crucial m4
256 GB
Sequential Read
500 MB/s
Sequential Write260 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
0.15 W
Power Consumption (Idle)0.10 W

If you're looking for a higher-capacity SSD with a performance-oriented tilt, Crucial's 256 GB m4 is a solid purchase. SF-22xx-based SSDs continue to sell for the lowest prices. However, Crucial's m4 gives you raw performance on a more consistent basis.

If you want to weigh each model's performance strengths, the comparison gets a little trickier. In a desktop environment, most data written sequentially tends to be compressible, favoring drives like the Vertex 3. When it comes to reads, the two drives perform similarly. But once you take into account that the m4 also offers more user-accessible space and a lower price, we think Crucial's drive is the clear victor.

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